Rex 737 CBR
Rex 737 VH-RQC at Canberra Airport. Photo: Robert Myers on Wikimedia Commons.

Rex has extended the grounding of its Boeing 737 fleet and cancelled many of its domestic flights for at least several more weeks, as a result of the extended lockdown in Sydney and COVID-19 restrictions in other Australian cities.

Rex has not operated any Boeing 737-800 flights since 18 July 2021. ZL689 from Gold Coast to Melbourne on that date was the last Rex jet service to take to the skies.

Last month, the airline had originally cancelled all of its jet services until the beginning of August. But the cancellations have now been pushed back even further.

Tickets are currently being sold on Rex’s Melbourne-Gold Coast flights from 13 August 2021. But cancellations on Rex’s Melbourne-Adelaide and Melbourne-Canberra routes have been extended until at least 19 August 2021. (Such a quick resumption of service on the latter route seems optimistic, given Victoria currently considers the ACT to be a “red zone” and this is unlikely to change in the near future.)

Meanwhile, Rex has cancelled all flights on numerous routes to/from Sydney until at least 3 September 2021. This includes Rex’s jet services from Sydney to Melbourne and the Gold Coast, as well as the airline’s Saab 340 services from Sydney to Canberra, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie.

Last month, Rex announced that flights would be reduced in response to “extensive State border closures and/or lockdowns”.

“Domestic and Regional routes on Rex’s network in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania will be either temporarily suspended or greatly reduced until the end of the State Government imposed border closures and/or lockdowns,” Rex said on 21 July.

If your Rex booking has been affected by these cancellations, you can apply for a refund on the Rex website.

Rex began operating Boeing 737s on capital city routes in March.

Of course, Rex is not the only airline affected by COVID-19 restrictions in Australia. Qantas yesterday announced that it will stand down 2,500 workers for an estimated two months due to reduced demand for flights, particularly in NSW.

“This is clearly the last thing we want to do, but we’re now faced with an extended period of reduced flying and that means no work for a number of our people,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said.

“Based on current case numbers, it’s reasonable to assume that Sydney’s borders will be closed for at least another two months. We know it will take a few weeks once the outbreak is under control before other states open to New South Wales and normal travel can resume.”

Virgin Australia is also reported to be considering standing down workers due to the current lockdowns.

Sadly, all airlines have significantly reduced their domestic flight schedules in recent weeks – particularly in and out of Sydney. The Sydney-Melbourne route is normally the second-busiest in the world, but Qantas is now running just one flight per day. Jetstar and Virgin Australia are both now serving the route less than once per day.

At least things aren’t currently as dire as they were in April 2020, when the Sydney-Melbourne route was reduced to a single daily QantasLink Dash 8 service via Canberra.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Rex to fly between Australian capital cities


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]